Introduction of Solids
Introduction: There are many people who think they are experts in infant nutrition, and all these “experts” know exactly the right way to for you to introduce solids to your infant. There is ONLY one expert that you should listen to – and that is your infant! Your infant and their body will tell you everything you need to know about how and when to feed them. Breast milk or formula provides all the nutrition your infant requires. Early on, solids are given for taste and texture and not for calories. The following is only a guide that is meant to help you navigate the waters of infant food introduction.
Timing: Your infant will tell you when he or she is ready to start solids. The most important sign of readiness is a desire and hunger for the solid foods. Your infant may become very excited when they see food and may open their mouth to express their interest in the solids. If your infant becomes fussy, closes their mouth or tries to push the spoon away, they may be trying to tell you that they are not ready or wanting solids. Some infants show interest as early as four months, others not until 7-8 months.
For the first feedings choose a time when baby is alert, happy and not too hungry. If baby is too hungry, then they may get frustrated and have no patience for this new experiment. Offer a tiny amount of food on the end of the spoon. Let baby open their mouth to take the foods instead of forcing it between their lips. Some babies enthusiastically take to solids others need more time. If your baby refuses to take any food the first time give baby another week and then try again.
If you start solids and your infant suddenly becomes constipated or develops eczema (or has worsening of these symptoms), then there is a chance that their intestinal tract was not yet ready for these foods. It may be that you should try other foods (fruits versus vegetables) or just wait a little while before reintroducing the foods.
How and How Much: The initial quantity of food should be a teaspoon or less once a day just for tasting. As your infant starts showing a preference for the solids, you can increase the quantity and frequency of the meals. Again, let your baby lead the way. There are some 5 month-old infants that eat 2+ ounces of solids three times a day, and there are 8 month-olds that are barely doing an ounce a day.
There are different opinions about what foods to start first. We suggest a gentle start with simple vegetables. The vegetables listed below are rich in iron and folate, which your infant needs to prevent anemia. We suspect that starting bland vegetables will also help your infant develop a wider palate for foods versus starting with sweeter fruits. Again, if your infant becomes constipated with the vegetables, they may not be ready for them, in which case the fruit may become a better first food to start.
The initial foods should be of a smooth and thin consistency so they can be easily swallowed. A simple way to introduce vegetables is to steam and then puree them in a blender. You can add a small amount of milk to the vegetables to soften the consistency. Most fruits can be mashed into a soft consistency without cooking. After a few days of first food, begin to introduce new flavors. You are welcome to introduce several fruits or vegetables at one time (the notion of one food every few days is not necessary). As your infant becomes better able to swallow, then thicken the consistency with the goal of ultimately having them chew the solids themselves at around one year of age (again these are approximations).
The food guides below are GUIDES! Your baby will tell you how quickly to move through the different stages. It is NOT unreasonable for a 9 month old to be eating eggs, chicken and turkey! Listen to your baby!!!!!
STAGE I (6-8 Months: EASY TO DIGEST, IRON-RICH FOODS)
Best Choices: Leafy Greens (Swiss Chard, Kale, Spinach, Beet Greens), Pumpkin, Green Peas & Green Beans and Apricots.
Easier to Digest Options: Applesauce, Peaches, Pears, Raspberries, Blackberries and Blueberries.
Optional: Mangos, Papaya, Artichoke, Dulse, Leeks, Mustard Greens, Collard Greens and Figs.
STAGE II (Generally 9-12 months)
Best Choices: Lima Beans, Broccoli, White Potato, Kidney Beans and Peas.
Optional: Avocados, Mustard Greens, Fava Beans, Pinto Beans and Leeks.
STAGE III (Generally 12-15 Months)
– Proteins: Egg Yolks, Fish, Ground Turkey, Grass-Fed Bison, Chicken and Tofu
– Legumes: Garbanzo Beans, Lentils and Split Peas
– Grains: Quinoa, Buckwheat, Brown Rice, Oatmeal Cereal and Amaranth
Optional: Grass-fed Red Meat, Goats Milk and Yogurt, Brussels Sprouts, Corn, Potatoes, Teff (Grain), Mung Bean Sprout and Barley
Secondary Options: Yogurt (Cow’s), Cashew Butter, Rye, Walnuts and Wheat.
Vegetables: Steamed, Sautéed, Roasted Or Braised.
Meat: Sautee, Stew (Crock Pot), Bake.
Fish: Bake, Steam, and Sautee.
Avoid: Barbequing as chard food is carcinogenic. Microwaving food changes the chemical structure of your food and is not ideal. Avoid heating foods in plastic or Styrofoam to minimize exposure to these undesirable compounds.